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Jonah Hex: No Way Back is a 2010 original graphic novel written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray[1] with art by Tony DeZuniga,[2] published by DC Comics, and starring the Western bounty hunter Jonah Hex.

Publication history

Jonah Hex: No Way Back was released to coincide with the film version of Jonah Hex released June 18, 2010.[1]

In an interview with DC Comics' The Source blog, Justin Grey said:[3]

Jonah Hex has a brother. That’s the idea that came up decades earlier in discussions between writer John Albano and Tony DeZuniga. Tony casually mentioned this to us and that idea has been brought to life in the hardcover. Bold, brazen violent and surprisingly tender, this is the consummate tale of the Wild West’s greatest bounty hunter.

Jimmy Palmiotti said:

This is the first all original Jonah Hex graphic novel and a dream project for us. Jonah is one of the coolest and most unique characters we have ever had the pleasure to work on. He’s an icon for all ages and his untamed manner appeals, on a visceral gut level, to just about everyone who reads it. In this, Hex’s first original graphic novel, we unleash the beast like you have never seen before.

Plot summary

After collecting a bounty, Jonah Hex takes up in a saloon for the night while acquiring the services of prostitutes. Two lawmen arrive at the saloon and give a prostitute a wanted poster to deliver to Hex showing that his mother, Virginia "Ginny" Dazzleby, is wanted for murder. In a flashback, it revealed that Hex has not seen his mother since childhood when she ran off with a traveling salesman named Dazzleby and left Hex with his abusive father.

Two days later, Hex's horse is shot out from under him by two bandits and he briefly lies on the ground playing dead before shooting both bandits. Against Hex's initial wishes, the bandits' dog, which Hex calls Dag, decides to accompany Hex.

Hex arrives at saloon to inquire about his mother and shoots a man who pesters him about his gunsmanship. The bartender directs Hex to the tent town located behind the town proper, where Hex encounters three men stealing diseased blankets to trade to Indians who settled on land they purchased. When the men try to rob Hex, he shoots one in the arm and dodges gunfire from the other two so that they shoot each other. A small boy who overheard Hex questioning the men about his mother steps forward saying she was kidnapped by a group of Mexicans heading south.

While on their trail in Arizona, Hex comes across a Navajo village razed by the Mexicans so they could pass off the Navajo scalps as Apache and sell them.

Hex catches up with the Mexicans in a saloon and kills them all. He finds his mother upstairs dying of tuberculosis. Hex's mother mistakes him for the devil come to claim her soul. Before dying, Hex's mother reveals that the Mexicans that captured her were working for El Papagayo and that she had another son by Dazzleby named Joshua. A woman at the bar named Edna reveals that Hex's mother was taken as bait for Hex.

Hex travels to Heaven's Gate, Colorado to deliver his mother's corpse to his half-brother and is informed upon arrival that Joshua is both the preacher and sheriff of the town and that the town has no saloon or whorehouse. Hex initially wants to leave right after delivering the body, but Joshua convinces him to stay for the funeral and to give up his guns while in town.

Meanwhile, El Papagayo shows up at the saloon where Hex killed his men. He ties up and severely beats the bartender, his daughter and Edna and shoots Edna after she bites his hand. He then reveals that Hex's father destroyed his village when he was a child and he swore revenge on Hex's family.

Back in Heaven's Gate, Joshua tries to make peace with the differences between him and his half-brother, but Hex makes good on his promise to ride out after the funeral. However, shortly after leaving town, Hex spies El Papagayo with around fifty men riding towards the town.

Hex returns to town and suggests that they run, but the townspeople decide to say and fight. The next day El Papagayo men ride into town and find Hex's dog. El Papagayo orders one of his men to shoot it to prove his aim. They find the town otherwise deserted.

File:El Papagayo death.jpg
The men arrive at the hot spring outside Heaven's Gate and find the women of the town bathing in it. One of them claims that the town is populated only by women. When El Papagayo's men jump into the water, the townsmen spring out of the water armed with various weapons.

The townsmen win the initial skirmish, but Papagayo is not among the dead. Papagayo mows down some men with a Gatling gun and promises to spare the town if they turn Hex over. The townsmen over power Hex and attempt to hand him over, but when Papagayo hears Joshua refer to Hex as his brother, he shoots him, only hitting his arm.

Hex breaks free, and Papagayo shoots him in the shoulder before Hex knocks the gun out of his hand. Papagayo reveals a knife hidden in his pants leg and stabs Hex through the arm. The fight continues until Hex pinned Papagayo and slits his throat with the knife still in his arm. Seeing their leader dead, El Papgayo's men retreat.

The story cuts to months later when Hex leaves Heaven's Gate after staying with his brother to heal. On his way out, Hex stops by his mother's grave, with Dag buried next to her, and tells her he doesn't blame her for leaving.

Reception

Reception for the graphic novel has been positive.

Ain't It Cool News Comics wrote, "If Jonah Hex: No Way Back were made page for page into a motion picture it would be the best Western movie in years. Gray and Palmiotti have taken an anti-hero they've grown accustomed to and elaborated their usual one-off, single issue stories into a full scale graphic novel and it's about as perfect as it gets when it comes to what anyone would want in a Western story."[4]

CraveOnline wrote "No Way Back stays true to the character and is a superb addition to his long history in the DCU. It's not so much an origin tale; instead it's a nice layer of depth to Jonah's past that ultimately makes the reader more sympathetic to the character. I wouldn't go so far as to say that this added element was absolutely necessary, but it's certainly not unwelcome. Too often with antiheroes like Jonah Hex, writers focus too much on badass one-liners and brutal kills without ever exploring the character's inner workings fully. Thankfully, that's exactly what regular Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti do in No Way Back."[5]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Smith, Zack (May 24, 2010). "Before the Film JONAH HEX Writers Find NO WAY BACK In New HC". Newsarama. Retrieved May 29, 2010. 
  2. Mahadeo, Kevin (June 17, 2010). "DeZuniga Rides With Jonah Hex". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved June 18, 2010. 
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. [3]

References

Template:DC Western Characters

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